Isn’t it interesting that God includes verses about friendship in the Bible? On the surface, friendship appears somewhat typical and certainly benign. After all, we often gain friends simply because our paths cross in one way or another. But closer view shows our Father detailing friendship - and our best approach to it - in very specific ways. Friendship stands important to our Father. Perhaps it should be important to us as well.
Consider Jesus. He calls us “friend.” What a huge leap for humankind when the Messiah includes us in his circle of friendship. He sets the example plain and offers hope.
The Bible outlines helpful Scriptures for life, ones that guide us and champion the pathway for friend choices and relations amid cohorts. Following are the top 10 Bible verses you and I need to know about friendship.
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1. John 15:13 - Start with Jesus
“Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:13 WEB)
Why not begin with the greatest? Jesus knows his way around friendship, evidenced on the cross.
I’ll be honest, admitting I take a deep breath when pondering this whole “dying for a friend” thing. It sounds painful, and my human side harbors a little silent scream with that one. But isn’t that the power of the cross: a denial of self-will, an action soaked in grace for a throng of folks who simply don’t deserve it – but receive it freely? Go love and go Jesus! Once gained, he’s a friend we’ll never lose.
Although we might never be called to give our last breath for a friend like Jesus did, we’ll likely find ourselves facing opportunity to set our will aside and follow God’s will instead. A friendship might very well sit in the center of that opportunity.
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2. John 15:15 - Jesus Calls You Friend
“No longer do I call you servants, for the servant doesn’t know what his lord does. But I have called you friends, for everything that I heard from my Father, I have made known to you.” (John 15:15 WEB)
How wild to think the Son of God calls us friends. A designation of “friend” details closeness, a very personal relationship. And why does he call us friends? The answer centers on communication.
Jesus lifted the fog of uncertainty. He shared everything he heard from his Father – with us. With our Father’s words, he offered hope and direction. Wisdom keeps that nugget of knowledge in view for our own friendships. Are we sharing the hope and words of our Father amid them? When frustration rises, do we circle back and recall our Savior’s offer of friendship?
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3. Mark 12:30-31 - Love Your Friend As You'd Love Yourself
“‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ This is the first commandment. The second is like this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” (Mark 12:30-31 WEB)
Jesus summed up all the commands with two, all-encompassing, wide sweeping commands centered on love. He clothed them both “great”: loving God and loving others.
Mark loving others as the second greatest commandment, reigning tall over all other commands except loving the Lord. So what does this have to do with friendship? Loving our neighbor includes those folks we call “friend.” And sometimes, strangers and enemies even become friends by our intentional choice to love.
When we slip love into a friendship, it champions Jesus, becomes a win/win for our friend and us, and becomes a spiritual triumph over hatred, apathy, division, and more.
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4. Job 2:11 - Take a Peek a Job's Friends
“Now when Job’s three friends heard of all this evil that had come on him, they each came from his own place: Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite, and Zophar the Naamathite, and they made an appointment together to come to sympathize with him and to comfort him.” (Job 2:11 WEB)
He lost family, fortune, animals, and much more. Can you imagine the grief Job experienced? His friends realized his situation loomed large and painful. They determined be at Job’s side, journeying with sympathy and comfort in mind, traveling to simply sit alongside Job in silence. (Further in the book of Job, his friends broke silence and things went south, but that’s for another article at another time.)
Friendship includes coming alongside our pals when they face death, sickness, loss, and other tough battles in life. It includes sitting with them, leaning a listening ear, and often, it’s handled well with minimal words.
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5. Proverbs 27:17 - Friends Influence Friends
“Iron sharpens iron; so a man sharpens his friend’s countenance.” (Proverbs 27:17 WEB)
A central component of friendship includes communication. Conversations between friends cover a wide path of subjects, including faith, marriage, parenting, employment, family, and more. Consider that interaction happens on social media, the phone, and in person. These conversations swirl with influence. Just as we use steel to sharpen knives, friends sharpen, or influence, us. Consider the spiritual power.
We’re wise to pray for our family members and ourselves concerning this. Why not ask for friendships of “iron sharpening iron” quality and wisdom to decipher which current friendships meet this criterion? Why not choose to be an iron-sharpening friend?
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6. Proverbs 12:26 - Choose with Caution
A speedy entrance into a dark room often offers a knee bump or toe stub of some sort. We’re wise to travel beyond that door frame with caution and at a slower, more calculated pace. Our toes and knees will thank us. Consider a similar approach to friendship.
Friendships can build others up or tear them down, depending on the person and whether they are following God. We’re wise to ensure we keep wicked ways at arm’s length and distance those friendships encouraging a departure from righteous ways. Wisdom stands firm with those who choose friends with caution.
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7. Proverbs 16:28 - Dump the Gossip
“A perverse man stirs up strife. A whisperer separates close friends.” (Proverbs 16:28 WEB)
I’ve yet to meet a person who enjoys being talked about behind their back. Something in gossip brings a sting like no other. Love, trust, and hope quake and quiver in gossip’s presence.
Our faithful Father warns about gossipers. He draws our attention to these words of strife and friendships. A mountain or molehill of half-truths or information leaked will damage friendships, even strong ones. We’re wise to be careful to what and whom we listen, as well as carefully choosing the information we pass along.
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8. Proverbs 13:20 - Consider Your Companions
“One who walks with wise men grows wise, but a companion of fools suffers harm.” (Proverbs 13:20)
When immersed in the customs and culture of a foreign country, people often find acquiring an accent or the country’s language easy. Local influence subtly soaks in without the foreigner even realizing it. Something similar happens in friendships.
When we make friends, some of their mannerisms, decisions, and beliefs leave an impact on us. After all, haven’t we known or read about a kid led into illegal activities because of the pressure from friends? Likewise, adults can be impacted in friendships. It might be subtle: a love of money, complaining, straying from church, or gossiping. Or, it might be more obvious like committing murder or adultery. Be wise. Making friends with fools hurts in the long run.
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9. Proverbs 22:24-25 - Steer Clear of Angry Friends
“Don’t befriend a hot-tempered man, and don’t associate with one who harbors anger: lest you learn his ways, and ensnare your soul.” (Proverbs 22:24-25 WEB)
I’ve noticed a funny thing. When my husband yawns, I usually “catch” his yawn, inevitably returning one of my own. Although not a disease or virus, yawns somehow manage to be contagious. Just try yawning around someone and see what happens.
Anger holds its own version of contagiousness, something a bit more learned but similar to yawning nonetheless. God calls our attention to the dangers of anger in Proverbs 22:24-25. We’re wise to heed the warning. Steer clear of being in close proximity to those who harbor anger. And while we’re at it, why not add a good dose of forgiveness to needed friendships as well? Check out Ephesians 4:31 for more encouragement.
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10. 1 Corinthians 15:33 - Beware of Deception
“Don’t be deceived! ‘Evil companionships corrupt good morals.’” (1 Corinthians 15:33 WEB)
Who we hang around with, those folks we call friends, matters. Darkness loves to kill, steal, and destroy. It’ll use friendships to do the bidding work of the devil through subtle conversations laced with gossip, jealousy and more. Watch out as deception attempts to subtly claw its way into the lives of those with good morals.
Why not flip to the other side – focus on godly bonds instead? Friendships grounded on truth oppose the effects of evil companionships. Righteous relationships often nurture love, encouragement, and conversations brimming with righteous words. They house honesty, challenges coated with love when necessary, and certainly generous doses of grace.
Kristi Woods, writer and speaker, is passionate about women walking deeper with God. She clicks words of encouragement at www.KristiWoods.net and is published in both Chicken Soup for the Soul: Dreams and Premonitions and Military Families as well as on Proverbs 31 Encouragement for Today. Kristi, her husband, and their three children survived a nomadic, military lifestyle, and have set roots in Oklahoma. Connect with Kristi here: Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest.
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